Some rheumatologists in private practice are fortunate enough to have office managers who handle the business side of medicine for them. However, the truth is that it is the physician who is the leader of his or her practice, not the office manager. If nothing else, the physician is the one who manages the office manager.
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Explore This IssueNovember 2008
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“No matter how wonderful your staff is, it is ultimately the responsibility of the physician leader to manage his or her business,” explains ACR Practice Management Specialist Itara Barnes. “No business owner should allow his or her office manager to have complete and total control over the staffing, finances, and legal issues of the business. Doing that is simply a dangerous practice and one that could be potentially devastating to your business,” she says.
The key, according to Barnes, is responsible delegation and good communication. Barnes offers two simple rules of thumb when it comes to delegation and communication:
- If someone can complete a task at least 80% as well as you can, delegate the task.
- When it comes to communication, you should be the mouthpiece, not your office manager. When you communicate to the group, everyone gets the same consistent message.
It is also important to manage your relationship with your office manager. The following are suggested topics you can cover in scheduled meetings with your office manager:
- Customer-related measures: Customers include all stakeholders—patients, insurers, physician colleagues or referral sources, and vendors;
- Employee-related measures: Discuss the number of employees, skill mix, expense, and turnover;
- Financial measures: It is important to have a firm grasp on your revenue and expenses (including detail and trends), accounts receivable, and materials management;
- Operational measures: Addressed surveys, quality measures, medical records, quality review, resource management, and medical costs; and
- Safety/environmental/public responsibility measures: These include regulatory measures from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, Drug Enforcement Agency, and others.